How to find wild asparagus

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Asparagus is such a delicious veggie. If you ask me, it's even better when you pick it yourself and bring it straight home to cook it. Wild asparagus is pretty abundant in many areas. If you love it, read on to learn how to find wild asparagus.

Bowl of asparagus with caption: how to find wild asparagus

Where to Find Asparagus
When searching for wild asparagus, there are specific regions that are more likely to have the plant than others. This map provided by the USDA has information on which counties in each state are the most likely to have wild asparagus growing there. It's not native to the U.S. but has been introduced and grows all over the country and in much of Canada.
The first thing to look for when searching for wild asparagus is soil with lots of moisture. Asparagus like lots of sunlight too! Look on the edges of fields and in meadows near lots of water.

When to Find Asparagus
Asparagus is similar to most of the fruits and vegetables simply due to the fact it flourishs in the late spring. The location determines when the wild asparagus will be fully ready to eat. The window of time can be as wide as March until June. A good indicator to know when the asparagus is ready is when lilacs begin to bud.

We for ours “10 days after the dandelions bloom” but this year was off and that rule didn't hold true for us.
If you can plan it out, try looking for asparagus in the late fall, instead. The overgrown stalks that have gone to seed are much easier to spot. You won't be able to eat it, but you'll know where to look for the harder-to-spot young stalks next spring if you do it this way. Here's what it looks like.
What to Look For When Looking for Asparagus
Thankfully, wild asparagus looks identical to asparagus that you’d find in a grocery store. You have to look closely, since it likes to grow in the tall grass. Scan the grass horizontally with your eyes and search for the “heads” – they stick out the most.
Walk carefully… look carefully. My children sometimes find more than I do since they're shorter and have a closer view! When you see the stalks, run your fingers along the base and break it off where it naturally snaps – anything lower than that is too tough to eat, anyway. Thicker, taller asparagus stalks tend to be more fibrous and tough, so just leave them. If they have already started to “branch” out, just leave them to go to seed.
It's pretty unlikely that you'll find ALL of an asparagus crop in an area since it's tricky to spot in the tall grass where it likes to grow. But just in case: don't harvest it all! Leave some to go to seed so there will be plenty of asparagus next year.
How to Prepare Asparagus
There are many ways to cook with asparagus and it mostly comes down to personal preference. I myself like drizzling a bit of olive oil and grinding a bit of salt on the asparagus and throwing it on the grill, like Serious Eats. For those who want more variety, I’d recommend the Martha Stewart’s “31 Days of Asparagus Recipes (Because Spring is Almost Here!)” slide show or even New York Times’ “26 Amazing Asparagus Recipes.” Both have vast selection of recipes and ways to eat them.

In conclusion, be mindful of what you do when wild asparagus hunting. Watch for the weather and area before you go and know what to look for before you start cutting the stalks. And most importantly, enjoy the experience and the eating!

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Kylie Worthington is a holistic living guide and herbalist. She's crazy about plants, outdoor adventures, and is obsessed with looking on the bright side.

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